Home News Concerns about Iran are keeping Netanyahu heartened at home. at present.

Concerns about Iran are keeping Netanyahu heartened at home. at present.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future appears bleak since the deadliest Hamas-led attack in Israel’s history last October, with critics blaming him for security failures and his poll ratings plummeting.

But this week’s confrontation between Israel and Iran — including Friday’s Israeli retaliation for Iran’s missile attacks over the weekend — could help change that dynamic, at least temporarily. Mr Netanyahu is now in his strongest domestic position since the October attacks, although his global standing has declined amid anger over Israel’s war in Gaza.

“This is his best week since October,” said Netanyahu biographer Mazal Mualem. “We are all afraid of Iran because of all the nuclear power they may have. That is why this week we can see Bibi recovering,” Ms Moallem said, calling Mr Netanyahu by his nickname.

Mr Netanyahu’s far-right coalition still trails the main opposition group in opinion polls and he could still lose if an election is held tomorrow. But the latest survey shows that gap has more than halved since October. His personal approval rating edged up to 37%, just 5 percentage points lower than his main rival Benny Gantz – one of the smallest approval ratings since the war began.

Analysts attribute part of the limited recovery to Israel’s conflict with Iran, which attacked an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria, killing seven people in a once-secret war that turned into an open confrontation this month . The attack prompted Iran to launch its first direct attack on Israeli territory last weekend, followed by Israeli retaliation in Iran on Friday.

For now at least, the tensions have diverted some domestic attention away from Mr. Netanyahu’s failures in the war against Hamas in Gaza and played to Mr. Netanyahu’s advantage.

Mr Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has for years shown himself to Israelis as the only politician with both the experience and wisdom to stand up to Iran and convince other countries to do the same. He has called for a tougher U.S. stance on Iran for years, most memorably in a 2015 speech to Congress that angered the Obama administration.

Some Israelis question Mr Netanyahu’s strategy in Gaza, where he has been accused of Drag out war and delaying the transition of power to a new Palestinian leadership to prevent the collapse of its government. Far-right lawmakers who hold the balance of power in the coalition are pushing Netanyahu to permanently seize Gaza and rebuild Israeli settlements there.

But Israelis are less skeptical of Netanyahu’s approach to Iran. While some foreigners accuse him of fomenting war with Iran for personal gain, in Israel he is often seen as carefully walking the fine line between stopping Iran and avoiding all-out war.

In Israel, “people look at him and say, ‘Well, we trust him because he doesn’t take too many risks,'” Ms. Moallem said.

Over more than three decades in politics, Mr. Netanyahu has earned a reputation for always being able to regain his electoral advantage even when trailing in the polls.

He was opposition leader in 1996, but fell 20 percentage points in his approval ratings after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whom he criticized for trying to make peace with the Palestinians. But Netanyahu fought back and defeated Rabin’s successor in the 1996 election.

Still, some longtime analysts of Netanyahu say it’s too early to tell whether his moderate resurgence bodes well for success in the next election. Tensions with Iran may temporarily ease, while other domestic crises may worsen.

secular members of his alliance may be requested He supports legislation forcing ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are currently exempt from the draft, to serve in the military. That could prompt his ultra-Orthodox partners to withdraw from the coalition.

“I still don’t think it was a good week for Bibi,” said Anshel Pfeffer, Mr. Netanyahu’s biographer. “It’s just that the pendulum is swinging a little bit.”

But there are several reasons why the pendulum may not swing back so quickly, allowing Mr. Netanyahu’s resurgence to continue.

First, analysts say anger over the security failures that led to the October attacks has begun to target not just Mr. Netanyahu but other political and military leaders. This could help him retain some support.

Moreover, while protests against Netanyahu’s government have increased in recent weeks as the war deepens, they are still smaller than at their peak last spring, when protests over Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms The outrage has led to concerns about Israeli democracy.

The protest movement also lacks a unifying slogan and its momentum has slowed. Some particularly want Mr Netanyahu to take responsibility for his government’s failure to prevent the October attacks and resign.

The other faction is focused on freeing Israeli hostages held in Gaza and hopes Mr Netanyahu will agree to a ceasefire with Hamas to secure their release. Some in the hostage movement are reluctant to make excessive personal attacks on Mr. Netanyahu for fear of undermining that primary goal.

A third group of government critics is motivated primarily by a desire to remove military service exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox.

“There’s a lot of overlap between the three, but there’s no one cause that motivates and inspires people,” said Mr. Pfeffer, the prime minister’s biographer.

Mr Netanyahu may also be under attack by the decision of Mr Netanyahu’s main rival Mr Gantz not to present a clear alternative to Mr Netanyahu’s wartime strategy or a long-term vision for post-war Gaza. Boosted.

Opinion polls show Mr Gantz’s coalition would still win if an election were held tomorrow. But in a gesture of solidarity, Mr. Gantz joined Mr. Netanyahu’s government at the start of the war. His critics say he has failed to provide a clear manifesto for Netanyahu’s opponents to rally around as he struggles to maintain wartime unity.

“The Israelis want the war to end, they want the war to end in victory,” Mr. Pfeffer said. “Gantz hasn’t really figured out how this happened.”

Some analysts believe that the war in Gaza has the potential to cause the same political and social ruptures in Israel as the Yom Kippur War.

In 1973, reservists returning from the Yom Kippur War, angry at their leaders’ failure to prevent the outbreak of war, ultimately fueled political opposition to the government of the day.

But it takes time. Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned after her government was criticized for failing to prevent the war, but her party still won the next election and lost power in 1977.

The Yom Kippur War also ended in a matter of weeks, while the war in Gaza has been going on for months and may continue for months more. While that is true, voters are likely to be wary of large-scale protests against Mr Netanyahu and could undermine the war effort, said biographer Moallem.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis remain displaced from their homes near Gaza due to fighting with Hezbollah on the Lebanese border. Others serve as active reserve members in the military, with some even fighting in Gaza.

“The public knows we are in the middle of a major war and now is not the time to hold new elections,” Ms Moallem said.

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